Many of you know I now live in downtown Decatur overlooking the Stone Mountain trail. It is truly heartwarming to see groups of young riders, dog walkers, families , and more enjoying the trail I helped create. I sit out on my balcony just to absorb the vibe of the people down below as they socialize and exercise their way to Stone Mountain or west to the BeltLine.
I’ve noticed from my lofty perch over the trail that cyclists tend to wear their Spandex long after their bodies say no. What this also tells me is that I’m a decade or two past the point where I should be wearing mine. I’ve concluded you should only wear spandex shorts when you’re shaped a certain way.
When did spandex become the uniform of choice for bikers everywhere? What exactly does spandex do for me as a cyclist? If I don’t know, why am I still wearing it every time I get on my bike?
When I was a little tyke, my bike weighed 100 pounds, the tires where fat, there were no gears, and my bike seat was as big as my butt. No special outfit was needed to ride my bike. Whatever I had on, I wore it to ride my bike.
When I was in high school, I got a ten-speed with skinnier tires and a skinnier seat. Still, I rode it to school and to throw my paper route without changing outfits. Back then, I would have probably looked fairly decent in spandex, but I guess I came along too early to be a spandex dude.
Fast forward through college and a job or two and I again found time to ride a bike for recreation. In the eighties, I purchased a Schwinn, sixteen-speed road bike with tiny little tires and a seat that wasn’t much wider than the bike. It was hard to ride. My wrists ached from absorbing every little bump in the road; I could never get the gears to work right, and my butt stayed chafed for days after every ride.
It wasn’t until my next bike that I discovered padded pants. When I purchased my new Trek, I also purchased a pair of black bike shorts, fully padded. I was in heaven… no my butt was in heaven. No more chafing or riding standing up to give my posterior a break. I started collecting colorful bike shorts on trips, at events, and when participating in rides. Now, I have two dresser drawers full.
So you see my dilemma? I see those people on the trail wearing their Spandex past the expiration date and I know I need to stop wearing mine. But what do I do with my drawers full of memory-soaked, color filled, perfectly wearable spandex bike shorts? Those shorts have traveled with me to Italy, along the Hudson River, throughout the Florida Keys, to the Virginia Creeper, and across Colorado. They have prevented countless chafing episodes and even garnered a whistle or two in their day. I can’t bring myself to dumping them in a Goodwill box somewhere. They need a good home.
I need to find someone who will care for them, take them nice places, and most of all, will make them take on the right shape. That’s the coolest thing about spandex: it can change shape based on what it’s covering. That’s also the reason I can’t wear mine another day.